A selection of letters and story comments online:
Re: "Booze Cruiser" by Rick Anderson (April 9)As an ex-drunk/druggie who now works as a treatment professional, I've seen and heard many stories. This character is a nightmare! I wouldn't accept him in treatment unless I was forced to. Yes, this fellow is in the grips of a wicked disease, but obviously too hardheaded to accept any sort of solution to his problem. Thankfully he has somehow managed not to kill or maim anyone. This cat needs to be put away for a long while. Period. Earlier in my career I thought 15-year revocations or prison sentences extreme, if treatment or supervision offered hope. I still work with tough cases and occasionally see amazing recoveries. This guy Castle would only take up bed space and resources from someone who may actually want/need help.—Rich AndersonI have been a treatment professional for 23 years and had the misfortune of having the DUI King among the legion of people I treated. I had a strong sense that he wouldn't change when I met him...now I can see many years later nothing has changed.—Brooks BysterRe: "Rose Dud?" by Aimee Curl (April 9)I think you're missing the point, Aimee. The point is that if we don't pay for election campaigns then someone else will, and their agenda is going to be different from that of the general population. The point is that, with a full public financing system in place, regular everyday people with good ideas have a chance at public office. The point is that a fully funded City Council member can spend more time considering the needs of the city and less time concerned with funding her next election. The point is to ultimately drive the cost of running a campaign down and to reduce the influence of money in politics. The point is NOT to write off a fundamental and important change in policy because of a couple of anomalies that challenge the robustness of Portland's new system.—Silas StudleyFocusing on a couple glitches in Portland's policy ignores the fact that Arizona and Maine have been successfully using an almost identical system for nearly a decade in all statewide and legislative races. These programs work and reduce the influence of monied interests in crafting public policy. The fact that people who violate the law are punished is a sign that the program is working. We should look at Portland's issues with Voter Owned Elections as an opportunity to create a more perfect policy in Seattle. It's time to get money out of politics.—Jeff MansonOf course, abuse of a system makes a better headline. The fact of the matter is the new campaign contribution system is working when violators are convicted, when candidates find it is not so easy to collect 1,000 signatures, when more people can contribute and participate, and when skyrocketing campaign contributions are reined in. These new programs are still evolving, need to be administered diligently, and are still the best way to engage new people in the political process and curb the unhindered special-interest money that dominates our political campaigns. Seems to me the only icky thing around here is a VOE opponent who believes it's better to run on private money and therefore be unaccountable to the little guy.—Marcee StoneThe reason public campaign financing is in the King County Democratic platform and is very popular among grassroots advocates is that voters, rather than big donors, will have primary access to their elected officials. Lobbyists who have cost us millions in prescription drug costs at the state and federal level will lose their power. The insurance industry will no longer control our health-care policy, leaving 47 million uninsured. Moneytree will no longer control the House Banking and Financial Institutions Committee, and their 391% annual interest on payday loans will become illegal, as it was before 1997. We have so much to gain, and little or nothing to lose from Voter Owned Elections.—Sarajane SiegrfriedtEmilie Boyles abused the public trust and is paying a tremendous price both personally and professionally for her poor choices. You could have chosen to focus upon Amanda Fritz—the first candidate who qualified for Portland's Voter Owned Elections program. As a registered nurse, Fritz would not have been able to run for office without public financing. In 2006, she ran against an incumbent for a seat on Portland's currently all-male City Council. Her presence in the race forced the incumbent to address "her issues," including affordable health-care and low-income housing. She capitalized on that campaign experience and become a well-known community leader in Portland and she will be very competitive if she decides to run again in the future. VOE programs eliminate the financial barriers and enable qualified people like Amanda Fritz to pursue public office. Seattle will be an even better city when we have a well-managed VOE program.—Chuck SloaneAimee Curl aptly describes the problems as "hiccups." The first was an administrative issue with an unforeseen special election, and while the second involved fraud, a former candidate has been ordered to pay the money back. If only all campaign fraud was so thoroughly detected and resolved before an election!So what's the problem? Given the chance, the end results of funded elections will be candidates who have qualified with voter support, who can compete without vast sums of money, and elected officials who can focus on their jobs instead of raising money for re-election. Most important, they won't need to repay campaign donors with favors financed with taxpayer money.—Susanne RecordonRe: "Light on the Snobbery" by Jonathan Kauffman (April 2)I love the Cheesecake Factory because it has a huge Braille menu. It is such a joy for me to go in there and just read it from cover to cover, cocktails and all. When a corporation cares enough to have a Braille menu on hand which is updated to reflect current menu items (and prices), I have every incentive to eat there. I am glad you reviewed it.—Alco CanfieldWrite to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online!